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Campaign Pushes Against HIV/AIDS Stigma In Effort To Save Lives

Crusader Community Health

Thursday was World AIDS Day. An organization that provides health care for low-income residents in Boone and Winnebago Counties marked the day by launching a campaign to overcome the stigma that prevents some people with HIV from getting the care they need.

The Winnebago County Health Department and the Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago joined Crusader Community Health to announce the effort.

Caprisha Perteete is Rapid HIV Coordinator for Crusader Community Health. She says the “Protecting Our Patients Campaign – Breaking Stigma that Hinders HIV Testing and Care” is aimed at both health care providers and individuals in the population that Crusader serves.

“So that we can bring in patients who are most marginalized from finding health care systems in, and getting the treatment that they need,” she says.

Perteete says HIV is still prevalent in the community, especially in the minority and LGBTQ population. But, Perteete says, decades after the AIDS epidemic began, many remain reluctant to acknowledge their risk of getting the disease.

“But it can be managed, and early detection can make you live a longer life, a healthy life, a normal life, as long as you’re getting treatment,” she says.

Crusader now offers testing at all five of its clinics in Rockford, Loves Park and Belvidere. Perteete says that, with rapid HIV screening, people can find out within fifteen minutes if they are HIV-positive and, if they are, to start managing the disease.  She says it’s a short time to find out something that could save your life, and, perhaps, the life of someone you love.

Guy Stephens produces news stories for the station, and coordinates our online events calendar, PSAs and Arts Calendar announcements. In each of these ways, Guy helps keep our listening community informed about what's going on, whether on a national or local level. Guy's degrees are in music, and he spent a number of years as a classical host on WNIU. In fact, after nearly 20 years with Northern Public Radio, the best description of his job may be "other duties as required."